A WNBA legend is returning to her home town, as Candace Parker has officially inked a free agent contract with the Chicago Sky.
Parker, who grew up in suburban Naperville and was a high school standout at Naperville Central, will join a Sky roster looking to make a jump up the WNBA standings in 2021, and she is excited for the opportunity.
“Chicago is where my family raised me; where I first learned the game of basketball; and where I first fell in love with this orange ball,” Parker said. “I am excited to continue the next chapter of my career where it all began. To my new teammates, my new organization, and my new fans: I’m home.”
During a remarkable run with the Los Angeles Sparks, who drafted her first overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker captured two WNBA MVP awards and was an All-Star on five occasions. She has also captured two Olympic Gold Medals in her illustrious career.
After a spectacular career at Naperville Central, which included two state championships, Parker attended Tennessee and played a pivotal role in securing two national championships for the Volunteers before being drafted by the Sparks.
In an exclusive interview with NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern, Parker discussed her career path, and some of the people that helped her along the way.
“Playing for coach (Pat) Summit (at Tennessee) really set me up for whatever was going to happen in life,” Parker said. “You can say a lot, but if you do what you say, that’s respect.”
Parker turned a lot of heads in high school, including in DePaul basketball coach Doug Bruno, who coached her during the Olympics and was always a huge supporter of her career as she moved through the college and professional ranks.
“YOU COULD TELL back when she was in sixth or seventh grade how talented she was going to be,” he said.
“I remember playing in my first game as a professional and looking over at Doug Bruno sitting courtside at the Sky game,” Parker recalls. “That’s the kind of support Chicago has had for me.”
That support was instrumental in helping Parker decide to sign in Chicago, and if she could give her 16-year-old self some advice, she says that she would encourage her younger self to make sure that her decisions reflect what’s best for her as a person, rather than worrying about what others think.
“I would tell my 16-year-old self to choose you,” she said. “This decision impacted a number of people, but I chose myself and I chose what made me happy.”